String != [Char]

Daniel Peebles pumpkingod at
Sun Mar 25 23:03:57 CEST 2012

On Sun, Mar 25, 2012 at 3:47 PM, Gabriel Dos Reis <
gdr at> wrote:

> We are doing our students no favor, no good, in being condescending to
> them pretending that they can't handle teaching material that would
> actually
> be close real world experience.  If we truly believe that they don't have
> enough time to learn what would really be useful to them, then we are
> truly wasting their valuable time teaching them things they would have to
> unlearn before writing good and correct code.  The education would have
> been a complete failure and waste of resources.
When people teach Haskell, it typically isn't to give them "real world
experience", but to teach them an interesting programming language and all
the great computer science it leads to. Types, laziness, higher-order
abstractions are the hard bits to learn, not a string-processing API.

If people want to learn how to deal with unicode correctly, I can think of
several better places to learn about it than a Haskell course. I don't
think it's condescending or impractical to focus on the things that make
Haskell unique, rather than teaching a unicode-correct API that could
conceivably be written in any other language. Learning that real human text
cannot be treated just an independent list of characters is something that
takes minutes to hours at most: someone tells you that there are all sorts
of exceptions to the list-of-chars paradigm, and then you read an article
or two on the language-specific difficulties, learn to use specialized API
functions, and then you get on with what you were actually trying to do.

So I think saying that ignoring unicode-correct strings a complete failure
and waste of resources is a bit hyperbolic, honestly.
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